Unsung hero fights for a devastated community
MEET St Vincent de Paul's very own bushfire hero, who has gone above and beyond to help his community.
In Yeppoon, Vinnies volunteer Rick Williams works for a desperate community that "doesn't like asking for help" despite an ongoing battle with bushfires and drought.
Mr Williams said much of his work as a volunteer was helping locals re-connect with vital services required to light that spark of hope and to try and return things to the way they were.
"Most of the money we are giving is going to get power and water back on," he said.
"Even if a home survived, the water tanks have melted, the pumps are destroyed, the electricity's down."
Mr Williams said the bushfires that raged through the area had cost far more than what people realised and it's the "forgotten Australians" he wanted to help.
"Many people were living in sheds that had been converted to homes but because they were still technically sheds, they couldn't be insured," he said.
"We're just driving around, visiting properties, finding more people to help every day.
"People lost their cars, they don't have a phone, so we go and find them because they really don't like asking for help.
"Sometimes when we arrive, they need to talk so badly all we can do is listen for as much time as they need. Some days that means we get to one property."
People from all age groups and demographics in the Yeppoon community are going to Vinnies volunteers, like Mr Williams, for help.
"I met one lady, well into her 80s, who lost everything except her house, and she was desperately worried about her 1500 head of cattle," he said.
"We were able to help her with $900 for hay.
"We had a young bloke come into the shop and he'd lost everything to the bushfire except his truck and his dog and all he'd accept was one set of clothes. We almost had to beg him to accept more but he just wouldn't.
"But he did come back and ask if we had any dog food. We will help anyone with a need like that."
Mr Williams isn't planning to throw in the towel any time soon. He said he planned to keep up visits for at least another year.
He said it was work he couldn't do without the support of the public.
"We have to just keep being there,'' he said.
"Disasters don't just go away. We're making sure people know we're not going away. We'll be there, no matter how long it takes."
Those wanting to support their fellow Queenslanders in Yeppoon affected by drought and bushfires should go to vinnies.org.au press the donate button and choose Vinnies Always There - Fire Flood Drought Appeal.
You can also call Vinnies on 13 18 12.